Bestselling author sued for libel after suggesting corruption

The author and publisher of a bestselling book on Mexican drug trafficking were sued in Mexico City this week for defamation. Anabel Hernandez, and the publisher Random House Mondadori were sued following remarks contained in Los Señores del Narco, The Lords of Drug Trafficking, a book that takes to task Mexican politicians and businessmen and traces a system of corruption and collusion back to the 1970s.

Former Attorney General Jorge Carpizo said the book damaged his reputation by insinuating he kept $400 thousand dollars of the reward money earmarked for the 1993 capture of drug kingpin  Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera. Carpizo believes Hernandez attacked him without valid sources, and without presenting any official evidence of her charges. “Having access to various public documents and books, the journalist made a number of affirmations that lack truth and context”, said the lawsuit, which was filed on the heels of an announcement by the World Association of Newspapers (WAN), that Anabel Hernandez had won their Golden Pen for Freedom award for  2012.

Hernandez, a reporter for online magazine Reporte Indigo, said in an interview that Carpizo’s charges were baseless. “I adhere to the principles of the Constitution and Mexico’s Press Law,” she said, arguing that the lawsuit from Carpizo’s is in retaliation for details included in the book which mentioned the names of powerful Mexicans.  “In a book of 600 pages, I mention Carpizo three times,” she explained. Carpizo was one of five attorney generals who served under former President Carlos Salinas de Gortari.

The book was published in Spanish in December 2010 and has remained on the bestseller list in Mexico, having also sold a record number of copies in the United States.  The book makes several assertions that have caused Hernandez trouble. In it she claims  that the governments of  Vicente Fox, who served in office from 2000 to 2006, and Felipe Calderon, who will leave office in December this year, made a pact to protect the Sinaloa Cartel, led by El Chapo Guzman, the same kingpin who was captured by Carpizo in 1993.  Guzman escaped from a high security prison in 2001, a few months after Fox took office. According to the book, Calderon’s war on drugs is only against enemies of the Sinaloa Cartel.

Hernandez has lived with fulltime bodyguards since publishing the book.  “I knew I was touching a lot of important and powerful people, so I accept my fate,” she said.  According to the journalist, the lawsuit against her is just one of several that have been lodged against Mexican journalists to silence them.  “This is the latest technique to attack freedom of the press,” she insisted.  “They keep us going from tribunal to tribunal, and stop us from doing our work.” Last year Hernandez publicly accused Secretary of Public Security, Genaro Garcia Luna, who is accused of protecting drug traffickers in the book, of planning to assassinate her.

Hernandez took 5 years to write the book.  She will receive the WAN´s Golden Pen of Freedom award in September 2012 in Ukraine.  She is the first Latin American reporter to receive the award since 1990, when the late Luis Gabriel Cano won the award.  Cano was brother of Guillermo Cano, who was killed by Colombin drug kingpin Pablo Escobar.